Pennyroyal Tea Lyrics - Nirvana

Review The Song (90)

I'm on my time with everyone
I have very bad posture

Sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea
Distill the life that's inside of me
Sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea
I'm anemic royalty

Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld
So I can sigh eternally

I'm so tired I can't sleep
I'm a liar and a thief
Sit and drink pennyroyal tea
I'm anemic royalty


I'm on warm milk and laxatives
Cherry-flavored antacids

Sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea
Distill the life that's inside of me
Sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea
I'm anemic royalty

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Kurt Cobain | Reviewer: Rebekah Parker | 1/18/14

Im 12 years old, and i adore Nirvana , songs like this help you get through alot. Thinking Kurt can relate with every word. My dad used to like them alot at my age, but im nearly 13 and this song is older than me , so i still like nirvana classics, so stop hating honestly its annoying , if kurt wanted to write a song on how he felt let him! It is what NIRVANAS about, and it helps people alot!

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How Kurt write lyrics | Reviewer: jiggi | 12/12/13

If wikipedia is to be believed, Kurt admitted lyrics is least of his problems and is lazy writing them, and writes lyrics about 2 hours before recording. Pennyroyal tea may not have been thought of much by Kurt, just some jibberings that may coincidentally have meaning

Correcting everyone | Reviewer: Xavier Folland | 9/14/13

Pennyroyal tea is about a tea made from the pennyroyal plant. This was used as for abortions to make them natural, hence "distill the life that's inside of me".

He told press that it wasn't about having a stomach ache and was in fact a song about abortion.

Anemic | Reviewer: Panda | 5/9/13

Yes Kurt was depressed, but lyrics dont always have to have some deep ceited meaning, some lyrics are simply lyrics about a random issue that somebody feels like talking about at the time. Kurt was anemic and he did have stomach problems. Symptoms of anemia include loss of energy, fatigue and insomnia (Im so tired I cant sleep)and depending on which deficiency is causing the anemia, symptoms can include hallucinations, paranoia schizophrenia and constipation (im on warm milk and laxatives). Perhaps he was "anemic royalty" because he had nearly all of the symptoms asscoiated with this illness. Either way his lyrics/songs still rock and will be forever timeless. RIP Kurt

The Truth About This Song. | Reviewer: Pisces | 4/30/13

This song is about his problems. He was anemic. He had a stomach problem and pennyroyal is a type of herb used to help stomach problems. Warm milk, laxatives and antacids helped soothe his stomach.
He wasn't crazy, he had bipolar disorder and was chronically depressed. He thought that heroin helped him feel better. Like 10,000s of thousands other people.
He was a good man.
RIP Kurt

Put an end to the guesswork | Reviewer: Zachary | 4/12/13

Not a single one of you geniuses know what may have been swirling throughout the mind of Kurt Cobain while writing this song or any other. It is left up to the listener to determine a deeper theme, and it is absolutely fine for there to be differences in perspective from person to person. That is the beauty of any artform. In this case, music is the art.

Drugs | Reviewer: Aegisaqua44 | 4/11/13

This song is most definitely about heroin use. Pennyroyal tea is just a metaphor for heroin in this song. Even the slowing down ending of the song gives it away, it was like that for shits and giggles. The slowing down signifies him shooting up, then proceeding to nod off, heck even the sounds he makes fit perfectly.

Pennyroyal Tea | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/18/13

Pennyroyal is an herb from the mint family, and for many years was used for things like aromatherapy however, the plant actually is slightly toxic. A few people have died from it when trying to use it for a self-induced abortion.
In Cobain's Journals, which was published posthumously in 2002, there is an entry where he explains the tracks on In Utero. The explanation given for "Pennyroyal Tea" simply reads: "herbal abortive... it doesn't work, you hippie."

When Cobain was asked if the song was related to his own stomach problems, he said 'Penny royal tea is a herbal abortive, I threw that in because I have so many friends who have tried to use that, and it never worked. The song is about a person who's beyond depressed; they're in their death bed, pretty much.'

warm milk and laxatives | Reviewer: veritasbro | 1/11/13

definitely about suicide. as for the warm milk and laxatives -- warm milk puts you to sleep. laxatives make you shit yourself. if hes taking warm milk and laxatives, hes trying to fall asleep and shit himself.

falling asleep and shitting yourself = dying. when you die, you essentially fall asleep forever. and also most people shit themselves as they die.

dudes. | Reviewer: me | 11/8/12

guys what does it even matter? it is not that important what kurt thought about it, in the end what matters is what YOU thought about it. just like the song? experiences? all fine but even if you think you know what he really meant, even then it is still YOUR opinion because kurt is dead and since he didnt say himself what it meant, no one will know. its about you, not him, his own words brothers and sisters.

drug abuse | Reviewer: matthias | 11/3/12

this song is about kurt being an addict cause he is in pain the lyrics speak for themself pennyroyal is actually poisonous but people used it as a cooking herb this is a reference to heroin it's also good but poision for your body "distill the life that's inside of me" meaning numb the pain inside of me by using the substance "I'm so tired I can't sleep I'm a liar and a thief" when your stoned on heroin it's very hard to get sleep and the liar and a thief part is pretty clear being an addict makes you do bad things like lying and stealing to get high and "i'm on warm milk and laxatives cherry-flavoured antacids" warm milk to get sleepy and when you use heroin you get constipated badly and the antacids he takes to even more stop the pain in his stomach

Pennyroyal Tea | Reviewer: Amberleigh | 8/3/12

This song does have multiple ideas explored, but they all have something in common: his attempts are unsuccessful.
It could very well be related to abortion or his stomach issues, but really the main theme seems to be his depression.
I know, I know, almost every song he wrote could be interpreted that way, but it does make sense.
As someone else has already brought up, Kurt wrote in his own journal making fun of the people using Pennyroyal Tea as an abortive substance. If he says he's drinking it, would it then be fair to assume that it's out of desperation, and its clearly not working? The fetus itself could be his depression.
The other remedies like the warm milk or laxatives also, would most definitely not work to abort a fetus, so those things could actually mean his attempts at using other drugs to remedy his problems, both physically and emotionally.
It was also noted that Leonard Cohen was an outspoken anti-abortionist. If this is true, and this was Kurt's meaning behind using his name, then that would mean he wanted a happy ending where the fetus (pain, depression) went away. So essentially, he is dreaming of a world where even though he can't do anything to fix his problems, there is a chance at happiness and freedom from his afflictions.

TL;DR Kurt is trying yet failing again and again to fix the pain and depression in his life, and a sense of hopelessness has settled in.

Depression | Reviewer: Carl | 8/4/12

The song is about suicide. Drinking pennyroyal tea is metaphorically a means to kill himself. Pennyroyal tea is believed to induce abortions. KIlling the fetus is Cobains way to say he want to commit suicide.

Leonard is a religious and spiritual man something that Cobain did not give much thought to. The remark about Cohen and the afterworld is perhaps a scarcastic remark and Cobain really sees no hope in his life or anything after that.
Although he wrote this song in a very short time speaks mostly about his inner self and how he felt. No thought sometimes equals honesty and sincerity.

weeeeeee | Reviewer: sunny | 7/16/12

I think your all right, kurt was clever and sure you all know he could make lots of meanings and different feelings in just a couple words. I agree there's probably a main meaning he was writing about, but I also think that he considered more thoughts into it as well eg his illness,drugs, how the world works, abortion, how people treat him or how they see him you know all that

Interpretation | Reviewer: BobKatz | 5/24/12

I don't know that any of these interpretations are necessarily wrong or right. I think it's great that with great music like Nirvana's there's always room for interpretation and speculation. I don't like to be spoon fed with mind numbing lyrics like those found in modern country and pop music. "Red Solo Cup" is the kind of song that distills the life that's inside of me.

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------ 11/24/2014

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